Dubai Flea Market: What you need to know about this second-hand shopping community

Established in 2007, it invites individuals to clear out their homes and sell any used or unwanted items

By Harriet Shephard

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Photos: Supplied
Photos: Supplied

Published: Sun 19 May 2024, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Tue 21 May 2024, 2:58 PM

In a city that’s famous for its luxury shopping malls, the Dubai Flea Market is a breath of fresh air. Established in 2007, it invites individuals to clear out their homes and sell any used or unwanted clothes, homeware, toys, books, and electrical items.

Hosted several times a month at various locations, including Zabeel Park, Discovery Gardens, Al Barsha, and Silicon Oasis North Park, it has become a true Dubai establishment.

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As the company’s flagship event for over 16 years, the regular Zabeel Park market still attracts as many as 250 stalls and 7,000 shoppers, while at its peak it attracted 500 stalls and an incredible 15,000 buyers.

Melanie Beese, founder of the Dubai Flea Market, said: “When we launched in 2007, second-hand shops did not exist in the UAE and the flea market was something new and exciting."

Melanie Beese
Melanie Beese

“So many shoppers and sellers come back every month. We just expanded to Abu Dhabi and our first event sold out in a week. There’s still a great demand for the flea market.”

What is so special about flea markets?

A UAE resident since 2005, Beese has been going to flea markets with her family since she was a child growing up in Germany.

“I’ve always loved flea markets. It’s so easy to get addicted to them because you never know what you will find. It's like a treasure hunt and a very special concept. As the UAE community is so multinational, you can find amazing household items and other things from every corner of the world for just a few dirhams.”

For many shoppers and stall holders, the markets are a vital part of their social lives.

“The markets have a very friendly atmosphere. There's something about them that makes it easy to connect and chat with other people. Some shoppers and sellers have personally told me how grateful they are for the flea market because it has helped them make friends and integrate themselves into the community. Around 40 percent of our stallholders are regulars, too,” explained Beese.

“But of course, the most important thing is that it is a way of reusing and recycling. It allows items that would normally be thrown away to be reused by other families,” she added.

When and where does it take place?

The Zabeel Park market runs all year round, taking place on the first Saturday of the month from 4pm to 10pm during the summer, and the first Sunday of the month from 8am to 3pm during the winter.

The times and locations of the other flea markets vary from month to month.

Beese said: “Shoppers will start queueing way before 8am. As soon as we open the gates, some people literally start running to get the best bargains. So, in some ways, it’s definitely best to arrive early."

“However, I personally like to buy at the end because that’s when people are likely to lower their price.”

Entrance is normally free, while some events have a small charge.

What are the rules of the flea market?

Bargaining with the sellers is allowed, but Beese urges shoppers to play fair.

Counterfeit products, perfumes, cosmetics, plants, and items with religious symbols are all prohibited, and the flea market employees patrol the stalls to enforce this.

There are no rules or regulations about the conditions of the items sold. You can find everything from new clothing, to ancient antiques that have been passed down through generations.

How can you become a seller?

Stands are priced Dh290 and bookings can be made via the website. It is recommended that each stall has at least two people manning it. With no card machines available, bringing plenty of change is also essential.


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